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Framers/Founders Religious beliefs


jackson33
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http://www.adherents.com/gov/Founding_Fathers_Religion.html

 

I think the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly Christian. However, anyone running for office would have to pump up his religious credentials to be elected, even more than they do today. We also should remember that there was not one Christianity - there were several flavors that may have prevented a union if the government was seen as favoring one over the other. It is clear that the Founding Fathers were more concerned about creating a working union than representing their particular religious faith through government.

 

 

 

Of course, none of this really matters to the question of a separation between church and state. The idea predates Enlightenment ideals, deism, etc. Arguably you could say that Jesus Christ himself advocated it. ("Give unto Caesar" etc.) And the tradition in America goes back to very religious men. What apparently most people on both sides of the current debate don't seem to understand is that the separation of church and state was for the purpose of protecting BOTH church AND state. Mixing them corrupts them both. Do modern-day would-be theocrats think so little of their faith and/or so much of government that they'd want each meddling in the other?

 

As usual, religion wants its cake after eating it. A Christian nation, like a Christian person, seems to give credit to the religion for all the good that comes of it, while claiming anything bad to be due to other influences. In this way, religion can play in the "dirty" affairs of men, while remaining clean and pure.

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So why do you feel that the founding fathers allowed all the religious trappings and quotations to permeate their early documents, as exhibited in the OP?

 

Unless you are referring specifically to our governing documents, then your question is completely irrelevant (in much the same way that the quotes of the OP have been demonstrated irrelevant to the question at hand).

 

Are you now suggesting that the founding fathers allowed "religious trappings and quotations" into our governing documents? If so, proof of and examples supporting that claim are required.

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My original statement;

 

Many threads under politics, and some posters, try to define the founders during the early days of America as atheist, non-believers or that they personally believed that religion had no place in in the NATION they were forming. This couldn't be further from the truth....

 

The following site, list most those considered founders, their religious denomination, concluding all but ONE was Christan. Rather than parsing my sentences, methods of presentation or motive in even creating a thread....please have at this fellow....

 

http://www.juntosociety.com/guest/pappas/crp_sfd121902.html

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the term "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional has prompted heated debate. Much of that debate has centered on whether or not the Founding Fathers were Christian; whether they were influenced by their faith as they forged the Constitution; and, whether or not they sought to exclude religion from the national political landscape.

 

I have serious problems, as a student of American History, understanding why this is an arguable issue, in the first place. There is no creditable evidence IMO that religion was NOT an important factor in the migration to the America's or the formation of all Countries that formed. Our founders (US) went out of their way to encourage all faith's the right to practice any religion and to maintain this, PROTECTED the States from Federal Involvement. The idea they were in some manner non-believers, protecting some minority of today, IMO make absolutely no sense....


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iNow said;

Are you now suggesting that the founding fathers allowed "religious trappings and quotations" into our governing documents? If so, proof of and examples supporting that claim are required.

 

I did, the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell, both pre Constitution...Would you like more, then before or after 1790???

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I did, the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell, both pre Constitution...Would you like more, then before or after 1790???

I know I've educated you on this point before, but it appears your memory is short (interesting, especially since you even gave me credit and noted your surprise at how well I grasped our nations history).

 

 

First, my question was for Pangloss, not you. With that out of the way...

 

Second, the Liberty Bell is not a governing document... it is a statue, so your attempt to equivocate it with our constitution is rather laughable.

 

Third, on a similar point, the Declaration of Independence is not a governing document either, but instead a letter declaring our independence from England.

 

Fourth, the original Declaration of Independence drafted by the Committee of Five DID NOT REFERENCE A CREATOR.

 

 

Now, in support of the above, here is the text from the original draft:

http://www.constitution.org/tj/tj-orddoi.htm

We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable, that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and unalienables, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness;

 

 

More on the history of this here: http://candst.tripod.com/doitj.htm

To sum what is known:

  • The original version Jefferson wrote did not contain the word Creator.

  • A copy that John Adams wrote in his own hand did not contain the word creator

  • At some point after Jefferson wrote the original draft and before it was submitted to Congress it was changed to the wording with regards to creator that we know today

 

There are several possibilities

  1. Jefferson changed his mind and reworded it to what we know today

  2. The change was suggested by Adams.

  3. The change was suggested by Franklin.

  4. The change was suggested by both Adams and Franklin.

  5. The change was suggested by one or both of the other two members of the committee of five or all four of them that was given the task of producing this document.

 

Jefferson wrote most of the text even some of the changes which scholars are pretty sure was suggested by either Adams or Franklin. There are places in the handwriting of Jefferson yet the wording and style sounds more Franklin or Adams than Jefferson

 

In other places it appears that Adams made some changes in his own hand and perhaps Franklin did as well.

 

Thus, bottom line, Jefferson's original draft did not contain the word creator. Sometime between writing that original draft and submission to Congress that wording was changed to the wording we know today

 

 

Either way, the heart of your point is completely without merit. I asked for governing documents, and neither the Liberty Bell nor the Declaration of Independence (whether you take it's original draft and meaning, or the one we all know which was edited at the last minute most likely by Franklin)... neither of those are governing documents.

 

Your point has been fully refuted... Or, at the very least, your response demonstrated to be completely irrelevant to my request.

Edited by iNow
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Well congrats, iNow, I think your point about the lack of religious references in the actual 'documents of governance' (slightly paraphrasing your text) is finally pinning this down in certain terms. If he can't show the presence of such phrases in the actual documents, then all he can claim is that religion had an outer influence, which was never a contested point, and does not show them to have been creating a "Christian nation", or a "nation founded on Christian principles".

 

Beyond that it's just semantics, breaking down into such esoteric, opinionated issues as whether the Christian trait of forgiveness might have had an influence on the modern legal concepts of justice and equality. Perhaps they did, but they were certainly not historical Christian traits, nor were they exclusive ones.

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And to top it off, perhaps we can be shown evidence of the following?

 

Many threads under politics, and some posters, try to define the founders during the early days of America as atheist, non-believers or that they personally believed that religion had no place in in the NATION they were forming.

 

 

Or as Wikipedians often like to do...

 

...and some posters[who?]
:D

 

 

But you might want to save yourself the effort, for I've conducted the search and here's the results: 0

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I have serious problems, as a student of American History, understanding why this is an arguable issue, in the first place. There is no creditable evidence IMO that religion was NOT an important factor in the migration to the America's or the formation of all Countries that formed. Our founders (US) went out of their way to encourage all faith's the right to practice any religion and to maintain this, PROTECTED the States from Federal Involvement.

 

Yes, religion had serious impacts on the founding of this nation. Specifically, the country was founded by dissenters who were persecuted by the Church of England.

 

They sought to set up a government which was not in league with any particular church, so that anyone can worship however they want without fear of government persecution as the dissenters experienced under the Church of England who was in league with the English government.

 

They weren't nonbelievers, but they wanted a government neutral on the issue of religion to maximize religious freedom for all.

 

jackson33, I'm still yet to see you recognize this simple fact. Can you just acknowledge that you understand it for me?

 

The idea they were in some manner non-believers, protecting some minority of today, IMO make absolutely no sense....

 

Again, who is arguing this? Can you quote them?


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So why do you feel that the founding fathers allowed all the religious trappings and quotations to permeate their early documents, as exhibited in the OP?

 

The documents in question predate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and bear no effect on present-day law.

 

Specifically:

 

The Declaration of Independence makes it quite clear under what authority the signers were acting on.....

 

The Declaration of Independence was authored by Thomas Jefferson, who also wrote:

 

 

...so I find it a very strange document to use for asserting anything about Christianity in relation to government. Thomas Jefferson even authored his own version of the Gospel removing any divine or supernatural elements, lowering Jesus's role to a motivational speaker. Jefferson's conception of Christianity would be considered heretical to most Christians.

 

James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, was opposed to public funds being used to pay Congressional chaplains:

 

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions66.html

 

I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of Religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace. This has always been a favorite principle with me; and it was not with my approbation, that the deviation from it took place in Congs., when they appointed Chaplains, to be paid from the Natl. Treasury[/b']. It would have been a much better proof to their Constituents of their pious feeling if the members had contributed for the purpose, a pittance from their own pockets. As the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that can now be done, may be to apply to the Constn. the maxim of the law, de minimis non curat.
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I find [the Declaration of Independence] a very strange document to use for asserting anything about Christianity in relation to government. Thomas Jefferson even authored his own version of the Gospel removing any divine or supernatural elements, lowering Jesus's role to a motivational speaker. Jefferson's conception of Christianity would be considered heretical to most Christians.

Quite right. It's known as the Jefferson Bible.

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

The Jefferson Bible, or
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth
as it is formally titled, was Thomas Jefferson's effort to extract the doctrine of Jesus by removing sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by
.

 

<...>

 

Jefferson arranged selected verses from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in chronological order, mingling excerpts from one text to those of another in order to create a single narrative. Thus he begins with Luke 2 and Luke 3, then follows with Mark 1 and Matthew 3. He provides a record of which verses he selected and of the order in which he arranged them in his “Table of the Texts from the Evangelists employed in this Narrative and of the order of their arrangement.”

 

The Jefferson Bible begins with an account of Jesus’s birth without references to angels, genealogy, or prophecy. Miracles, references to the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and Jesus' resurrection are also absent from the Jefferson Bible.

 

 

Jefferson wrote a letter about the work on October 13, 1813 to John Adams, where he stated:

 

In extracting the pure principles which he taught, we should have to strip off the artificial vestments in which they have been muffled by priests, who have travestied them into various forms, as instruments of riches and power to themselves. We must dismiss the Platonists and Plotinists, the Stagyrites and Gamalielites, the Eclectics, the Gnostics and Scholastics, their essences and emanations, their logos and demiurges, aeons and daemons, male and female, with a long train of …
or, shall I say at once, of nonsense
. We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as
easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill
. The result is an octavo of forty-six pages, of pure and unsophisticated doctrines.

 

http://www.cooperativeindividualism.org/jefferson_m_03.html

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bascule wrote;

1- Yes, religion had serious impacts on the founding of this nation. Specifically, the country was founded by dissenters who were persecuted by the Church of England.

 

2- They sought to set up a government which was not in league with any particular church, so that anyone can worship however they want without fear of government persecution as the dissenters experienced under the Church of England who was in league with the English government.

 

3- They weren't nonbelievers, but they wanted a government neutral on the issue of religion to maximize religious freedom for all.

 

jackson33, I'm still yet to see you recognize this simple fact. Can you just acknowledge that you understand it for me?

 

Again, who is arguing this? Can you quote them?."

 

bascule; Unless I'm misunderstand you,

Points 1-2 and 3, are exactly what I've tried to justify this thread with. Reason being your post had been pulled and was attempting to further the understanding around of bunch of politicians and/or their advisor's (majority, I assume Christan) would have instinctively mentioned their religious and that of an enemy. IMO, no less than what went on behind the scene leading up to the 2nd Constitutional Convention and probably through out.

 

As for which threads and which poster HAVE argued the founders being in some way not religious, then the reason for a secular Constitution, which in one way or another would justify decisions or actions today; I do not have time nor is it relevant. If you like, when it happens again, it will, I'll PM you, but it's a common argument and NOT just here....

 

 

iNow; I was impressed (still am) on your apparent interest in American History, as I would be with any American, adding that most any immigrant that becomes a citizens today knows more than the average person. I may disagree with your conclusions, but never your attempt to understand how, why and from where the US came to be....This holds true for Obama and your moderate IMO compared to him....

 

Briefly on the changes in Jefferson's DoI draft; You have mentioned this before and is really trivial, however Adams was asked to write that draft and asked Jefferson to do the job. Adams and Jefferson both Attorneys but their is/was little doubt Jefferson was the articulate one. Any way when the committee went over the original draft, most would agree it was Franklin making the suggested changes and Jefferson that conceded to the minor changes. Adams had already signed off on Jefferson's draft...That is IMO, Franklin (in his 70's) knew what had been and what was coming, not only War but the formation of a Country. By the way, do you know any other person in American History, more revered in ALL European History Books, than Mr. Franklin...think not.

 

There were for reasons mentioned, hundreds of various religions by the late 18th Century and virtually every Colony Charter/Constitution had religious mention in one way or another, some denying rights or punishment for non-believers. Massachusetts was established opposing separating Church/State and Roger Williams, banished for trying to preach it, only to set up RI. The Church of England had trouble getting preachers and many colonist formed the Episcopal Church with no trouble (CoE all became after the war) and made official after the war. By 1750, Churches were behind education, forming higher education Universities, each with their own brand of philosophy.

 

The above is intended to set up conditions for the opening of that 2nd Constitutional Congress. Virtually every Colony was represented by a different understanding of Religion (many other issues/political/rights etc) or at least represented those people. The purpose then to establish a viable government, that all these different philosophies could agree on. Their unity came in 'E Plurabus Unum', in this case 13 into one, soon to be the National Motto, really still is in many circles. As for 'Official Documents', it would depend on what the meaning of 'is' is... Washington and every president since has inserted religion into their conduct officially and unofficially, each hundreds/thousands of times. Maybe you can find other answers in the following....

 

http://members.au.org/site/News2?abbr=resources&page=NewsArticle&id=9061&security=1441&news_iv_ctrl=2422

 

The answer to all of these questions is no. The U.S. Constitution is a wholly secular document. It contains no mention of Christianity or Jesus Christ. In fact, the Constitution refers to religion only twice in the First Amendment, which bars laws "respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and in Article VI, which prohibits "religious tests" for public office. Both of these provisions are evidence that the country was not founded as officially Christian. You can play games with an opinion on the DoI, but 'Creator' meant the same thing in 1776, as it does today..

 

Many colonies, for example, had provisions limiting public office to "Trinitarian Protestants" and other types of laws designed to prop up the religious sentiments of the politically powerful. Some colonies had officially established churches and taxed all citizens to support them, whether they were members or not. Dissenters faced imprisonment, torture and even death. .

 

Respect for religious pluralism gradually became the norm. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, for example, he spoke of "unalienable rights endowed by our Creator." He used generic religious language that all religious groups of the day would respond to, not narrowly Christian language traditionally employed by nations with state churches. .

 

Jefferson and Madison's viewpoint also carried the day when the Constitution, and later, the Bill of Rights, were written. Had an officially Christian nation been the goal of the founders, that concept would appear in the Constitution. It does not. Instead, our nation's governing document ensures religious freedom for everyone. .

 

Other early U.S. leaders echoed that view. President George Washington, in a famous 1790 letter to a Jewish congregation in Newport, R.I., celebrated the fact that Jews had full freedom of worship in America. Noted Washington, "All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
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Points 1-2 and 3, are exactly what I've tried to justify this thread with. Reason being your post had been pulled and was attempting to further the understanding around of bunch of politicians and/or their advisor's (majority, I assume Christan) would have instinctively mentioned their religious and that of an enemy. IMO, no less than what went on behind the scene leading up to the 2nd Constitutional Convention and probably through out.

 

As for which threads and which poster HAVE argued the founders being in some way not religious, then the reason for a secular Constitution, which in one way or another would justify decisions or actions today; I do not have time nor is it relevant. If you like, when it happens again, it will, I'll PM you, but it's a common argument and NOT just here....

 

So as far as I can tell we're in agreement, but there's some nebulous unnamed third party you disagree with. Okay. Well that's confusing because I seem to be one of the only people trying to take a counterpoint on this thread aside from iNow and Mokele, and it sounds like neither of them fit your description either.

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I may disagree with your conclusions, but never your attempt to understand how, why and from where the US came to be...

I am fine with you disagreeing with my conclusions, but I sure would appreciate you bringing some clarity and specificity into where and why. Until then, I feel comfortable ignoring you, and that is something I don't feel is respectful of your experience. Basically, you need to put forth where and why you disagree so I can learn more and respect your stance, and until you do, I will not be showing much respect at all. I hope you understand the fairness of my point.

 

 

 

Briefly on the changes in Jefferson's DoI draft; You have mentioned this before and is really trivial, however Adams was asked to write that draft and asked Jefferson to do the job.

Actually, it's not trivial at all. I asked you to supply one single solitary governing document which relies on and even explicitly mentions christian faith and religious belief. I asked for any single and clear example that these men brought their religion into governance.

 

You responded with "the liberty bell" and "the declaration of independence." I showed how neither of those were governing documents, so your response was completely irrelevant to my request.

 

Now, you can argue all you want about who was originally tasked with drafting the declaration of independence. However, the simple point remains... it was written by Jefferson, without the word "creator." It was copied by Adams, again without the word "creator." When it was submitted to Congress, it did contain the word "creator," most likely added by Franklin. However, despite all of this, the declaration of independence is not a governing document.

 

I have never argued that these men were atheists.

I have never argued that they did not hold some personal religious beliefs.

 

My arguments have been clear.

 

Our government was intended to be secular. It was intended to separate religion and governance. It has been abundantly demonstrated with historical accuracy that this is the case. My argument has shown that people who try to imply or argue otherwise are peddling falsehoods and misunderstandings.

 

 

 

The purpose then to establish a viable government, that all these different philosophies could agree on. Their unity came in 'E Plurabus Unum', in this case 13 into one, soon to be the National Motto, really still is in many circles. As for 'Official Documents', it would depend on what the meaning of 'is' is...

 

No, actually it does not depend on that at all. The meaning of "is" is completely without application to the current discussion.

 

Also, the "out of many, one" philosophy really isn't relevant here either, so I encourage you to accept that you've been bested and move on.

With that said, I appreciate your kind tone. I simply don't think you're making a very good argument for your position, and also feel that the arguments which you have, in fact, put forward have been countered in their entirety.


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Christopher Hitchens vs Ken Blackwell on HARDBALL regarding the US Being a Christian Nation.

 

8ISylK4g6UM

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Christopher Hitchens vs Ken Blackwell on HARDBALL regarding the US Being a Christian Nation.

 

Lots of deja vu in that video... and Christopher Hitchens points out the simple fact that the founding documents of the United States are secular.

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  • 10 months later...

Is reading hard? Do you prefer videos to books? Are you a knuckle-dragging paste-eater who had to ride the short bus to school and wear a foam helmet? Well, then this is for you!

Enjoy. :)

 

 

 

5j5ncmZizJ0

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iNow; It's somewhat ironic, you bring back this very old thread, a couple days after Glenn Beck had the 'Wall Builders' founder (David Barton) on his program. He certainly can back up his viewpoints.

 

The one thing that worried me about Bush II in 2000, was his mentioning of his "salvation" via the Christian Religion, not so much for what it obviously meant to him, but in running for a National Office, to govern more than Christians. Sarah Palin, has got off on much the same path, knowingly giving birth to a downs syndrome baby, seemingly as testimony, which also bothers me. Then of course, I do believe the Countries Founders were primarily Christian and the Society today remains primarily Christian, which as it did for Bush, could be a positive for her. On this I do think either in 2012 or 2016 (whichever a new President is placed) will either have lady P or VP on the ticket. I'm really looking at Ms. Bachmann, a new face Representative from Minnesota. Ms. Palin, has already made a small fortune and I get the feeling she is not really interested.

 

On your offered link; Aside from coming from a couple obviously partisan individuals, likely atheist (you admittedly agnostic, IMO) is full of arguable opinions. The only real error (not arguable), was the right of States to determine who is qualified for placing on their State Ballot for a Presidential Election. They all have their own rules and none allow just any person to be placed on that ballot.Then if they want proof or verification for birth of a Presidential Candidate, that is a Constitutionally required mandate and no Court would strike down that requirement or could the SCOTUS, claim it unconstitutional, IMO. Also McCain, was eligible....

 

This is not the first time the question has been broached in a presidential election. Fellow Arizonian Barry Goldwater was born in the Arizona territory before it was a state. And Mitt Romney's father, George, ran for president in 1968, though he was born in Mexico. Like McCain, both were born to U.S. citizens and, therefore, considered to be American citizens. [/Quote]

 

http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/how_can_panamanian-born_mccain_be_elected_president.html

 

I believe a special declaration for all people from the US under the Panama Act (about 1903), also gave him "Natural Born" status. Obama's problem if not born in Hawaii, was he nor his parents ever registered the birth (required) or could have under the then laws of the US/Kenya (duel citizenship), not to mention possibly being a British Subject.

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I appreciate your thoughtful post above, Jackson. I would just caution you, however, to recognize the extreme and biased nature of Michelle Bachmann. She is severely and objectively wrong on a large number of the positions for which she argues.

 

Otherwise, I will leave it at that. I'm not going to open up the birther can of worms here. ;)

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Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

 

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 181

 

 

It's dangerous to run solely on quotes, as these argumets often do (and I am guilty as well), but in this quote Jefferson was not speaking of U.S. constitutional law, but rather British Common law.

 

Full Text discussion on the origin of British Common Law

 

It's a very interesting letter, by the way, and well worth reading.

 

Edit: What Jefferson is arguing in this 1816 letter is that the British Government has erroneously adopted the Ten Commandments into the common law, and that their doing so was based on a false pretenses.

 

This should come as no surprise to anyone, as there is no doubt that this country's founding documents, in part, forbid the establishment of a state religion. It was done precisely for the abuses of power that were seen in the British government of the time. As such, Jefferson's letter is meant simply to argue that the British claim of precedent for adoption of Christian law into the British common law was faulty.

 

That is a very different argument he is making than the one being made in this thread. The quote is very misused all over the internet, though.

Edited by jryan
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Didn't the Pilgrims migrate to the new world to avoid religious persecution? The secular and atheist in high places were persecuting them. Pennsylvania began as a Quaker providence, with Philadelphia, later becoming the center for democracy. Philadelphia was also one of the seven churches of the earliest Christian era.

 

Philadelphia – The church of brotherly love that endures patiently (Revelation 3:7-13). Philadelphia is located on the Cogamis River in western Asia Minor, about 80 miles east of Smyrna. Philadelphia was known for its variety of temples and worship centers.

 

Revelation 3:7-13 (King James Version)

 

8I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

 

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Obviously, Christian values played a role in the building of the nation. Genocide of Indians, slavery, subjugation of women, etc. The best thing they did was to allow for change, so I'm glad that as we acquire better knowledge and values, we can replace the old.

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Obviously, Christian values played a role in the building of the nation. Genocide of Indians, slavery, subjugation of women, etc. The best thing they did was to allow for change, so I'm glad that as we acquire better knowledge and values, we can replace the old.

 

 

All of these national ills were combated by groundswell, predominantly Christian movements.

 

Gerrit Smith was the primary mover on the Abolition AND suffrage movements in the United States. He drove the suffrage debate in the Northern states by buying large tracts of land to give to women and blacks to give them land-owner status in order to vote.

 

He also created the Liberty Party. It was formed in 1840 with two primary planks: Universal Suffrage and Abolition.

 

Pretty much any major landmark in the Abolition and Suffrage movements in the 1800s is connected to the work of Gerrit Smith, who was driven by his religious beliefs (he was also the founder of a Christian unification church to eliminate the sectarianism of Christianity).

 

Likewise, it is isn't hard to find the religious tone present in the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.

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It's not hard to find the religious tone in the opposition to rights of Native Americans, (even the genocide of native peoples), abolition of slavery, and womens suffrage. Religion, specifically the Christian religion but others as well, is used by both sides of many moral issues.

 

Religion is often at the forefront of movements to stifle progressive thinking on many issues. It's often only in hindsight we see these progressive issues as the moral high ground.

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It's dangerous to run solely on quotes, as these argumets often do (and I am guilty as well), but in this quote Jefferson was not speaking of U.S. constitutional law, but rather British Common law.

 

Full Text discussion on the origin of British Common Law

 

It's a very interesting letter, by the way, and well worth reading.

 

Edit: What Jefferson is arguing in this 1816 letter is that the British Government has erroneously adopted the Ten Commandments into the common law, and that their doing so was based on a false pretenses.

 

This should come as no surprise to anyone, as there is no doubt that this country's founding documents, in part, forbid the establishment of a state religion. It was done precisely for the abuses of power that were seen in the British government of the time. As such, Jefferson's letter is meant simply to argue that the British claim of precedent for adoption of Christian law into the British common law was faulty.

 

That is a very different argument he is making than the one being made in this thread. The quote is very misused all over the internet, though.

 

That's interesting to know, thank you. I am inclined to point out, however, that my thread containing three superficially anti-religious (of which you only picked that one) Jefferson quotes was a sort of tongue-in-cheek response to Jackson33 who had earlier posted superficially pro-Christianity Jefferson quotes. My intentions were not to surmise about Jefferson's character based on those utterances, but to illustrate the caveat that is to do such a thing.

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That's interesting to know, thank you. I am inclined to point out, however, that my thread containing three superficially anti-religious (of which you only picked that one) Jefferson quotes was a sort of tongue-in-cheek response to Jackson33 who had earlier posted superficially pro-Christianity Jefferson quotes. My intentions were not to surmise about Jefferson's character based on those utterances, but to illustrate the caveat that is to do such a thing.

 

Well, Jefferson is definitely an interesting figure to be sure. He is a "Christian" insofar as he believed the moral code spelled out by Jesus in the New Testament was the purest path to human happiness as can exist, but he also did not believe in the Resurrection, walking on water, and other miracles in the same text.

 

So on one hand he was a Christian in that he truly did believe that the teachings of Jesus were the salvation of mankind.... and on the other he wasn't a Christian as he didn't believe in the original sin from which Christ (read: savior) purportedly saved humanity.

 

As such, and as a Christian myself, I must laugh at the fact that Jefferson was a better Christian in many respects than many professed Christians! Of course, he was also a slave holder, so he wasn't that great of a Christian either.

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